Hi, all! It’s my first time doing a Sleepy Hollow review, and it feels good.
This episode promised to feature Abbie’s awesome sister Jenny more prominently, and to delve into the reasons for their estrangement, along with a healthy serving of more creepy demon shit. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. I just wish that it had come with a few trigger warnings and a little more research. Beware spoilers ahead.
Abbie is being plagued by terrible dreams that relate to her sister. In the meantime, people related to the incident which pushed the two sisters apart are killing themselves in front of Abbie. Abbie and Ichabod go to the mental institution where Jenny is incarcerated to try and talk to her about the connections and the demons, but Jenny refuses to see Abbie. She does allow Ichabod to drop in, though, which made for some great interaction between the two of them, and serves to get Jenny up to speed on the whole ‘the End of Days is real’ thing. Abbie later reluctantly explains to Ichabod that, when she and Jenny were found in the woods, they had just recently ended up in a great foster home. Jenny had told police the truth about the demons they’d seen, and Abbie refused to corroborate for fear of being written off as crazy and, one assumes, dropped by their current foster family and shunted back into the system.
Once Abbie and Ichabod do some research, they discover that the creature who is forcing people to commit suicide is a Native American Sandman-like spirit. They seek out aid from some handy local Native Americans and enter a dream state where they must face down the Sandman or die. When Abbie is backed against the wall by the demon, she comes clean and admits to the spirit, Ichabod, and most importantly, herself, that what she saw as a child was real. The power in this character-growth-filled declaration turns the Sandman into glass, which Abbie then shatters, freeing herself and Ichabod from the dream world. Demon of the week vanquished, they share a cute moment of mutual ‘what the fuck have we gotten ourselves into’ banter.
Shortly thereafter, Abbie goes again to visit Jenny. However, Jenny doesn’t answer the front desk’s call, and when Abbie goes up to investigate, Jenny appears to have broken out of her room. Cue suspenseful music and roll the credits.
Okay, so I both loved this episode and have a lot of skeevy feels about it. First off, the good: I absolutely loved that Abbie was the one to have the character-defining moment at the end of the episode, because it continues to underline that, although the focus in the intro and the advertising may be on Ichabod, she is still the main character. Also, despite being stripped down to a bra for the dreaming scene, she was wearing a sensible sports bra and was never sexualized.
I thought Jenny seemed badass, and I can’t wait to see even more of her in future episodes. They seem to have decided to incorporate Native American myth into the mythology of the show (without falling back on the go-to wendigo myth), and it was pleasantly surprising to see the sort of things you don’t see very often in modern media, like acknowledging the Native American involvement in the Revolutionary War, and pointing out the scope of white folks’ genocide of Native peoples.
On the other side of that same issue, though, I did think it was sort of crappy that the show first called out Ichabod and Abbie for approaching the first Native guy they could think of and asking him to shaman them up some dreamwalking magics, but then it turned out that as long as you keep up your serious face when you’re asking, the first random Native guy you approach will in fact secretly have a sweat lodge filled with dream magics out back of his car dealership. Also, while the actors who played the Mohawks in the episode were people of color, I can’t find any evidence from their resumes or IMDB pages that they were in fact Native. And also, why on earth would a tribe based in the American Northeast do a ritual that used scorpions, which are generally desert-dwelling? I dunno, I think they tried to do a good thing inclusion-wise, but, as this post by a Native fan points out, they went about it in a pretty shitty way.
Related to all that, I really wish that the writers wouldn’t continue to write Ichabod as this impossible paragon white guy. Regardless of whether he was an abolitionist, regardless of whether he had Native American friends and allies, he is still likely to have internalized at least some of the prejudices of his time. Completely writing off any potential racism (or any -isms) on Ichabod’s part is honestly just lazy writing, and I don’t think that his character is as believable without at least some of the trappings of his time. If he’s supposed to be a fully-realized character, the biggest prejudice he expresses in the show shouldn’t be against the taste of Red Bull.
Finally, my last tiny pet peeve is that I wish Abbie would stop giving away long infodump reveals about her history. She’s a complicated character and there’s no point in having given her a mysterious and troubled past in the first place if we give away her entire life story in the first three episodes. There are still plenty of other characters whose backstories we could learn about in the meantime, and that would keep her character from giving everything away up front.
So what would I like to see in future episodes? I am looking forward to a more clarified understanding of how all the show’s episodic bad guys are tied to the big bad. I would love to see more inclusion of Native mythology, but only in a way that is well-researched and not so terrible. I want to know why Captain Irving is so keen on helping Ichabod and Abbie all of a sudden, and why Ichabod seems to have been granted the deus-ex-machina-esque Sherlock Holmes Crime Scene Hall Pass™, allowing him to accompany Abbie to crime scenes and on emergency calls. This show is doing a lot of good, cool things right now, and I’d like it to stop doing shitty ones as soon as possible so that we can just kick back and enjoy watching our new favorite odd couple try to stop the End of Days.